This systemic advocacy project arose out of conversations with members of the Deaf, deaf, and Hard of Hearing communities in 2014. They shared their personal stories about the challenges of living with different types of hearing limitations in Saskatchewan, including the challenges arising from the closing of the Saskatchewan School for the Deaf in 1990.
These conversations ultimately led the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission to hold a series of public consultations, seeking input from people with lived experience of a wide range of hearing issues. We heard from many people, young and old, and their families. We heard, as well, from professionals in the fields of audiology, speech pathology, and language development. We heard also from advocacy groups who represent different Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing communities.
Following comprehensive consultations in 2015-16, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission published “Access and Equality for Deaf, deaf, and Hard of Hearing People: A Report to Stakeholders” in May 2016. This report described challenges facing D/dHoH communities and proposed 15 specific issues to be addressed.
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission then facilitated the creation of a “Deaf/deaf and Hard of Hearing Systemic Advocacy Committee.” The Systemic Advocacy Committee (the Committee) was formed with participants from persons with lived experience, parents, audiologists, ASL interpreters, and others, including representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Education, Health and Social Services.
The Committee held its first meeting in December 2016; it has met more than 30 times over the next four years.
The Committee heard from stakeholders, including experts and parents of D/dHoH children, and discussed ways to reduce barriers and address systemic patterns of discrimination.
On October 28, 2021, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission will release a follow-up report: “Access and Equality for Deaf, deaf, and Hard of Hearing People: Update to Stakeholders 2021”. The report summarizes successes during the past four years and highlights outstanding challenges still faced by D/deaf and hard of hearing communities.